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Superfund and Mining Megasites: Lessons from the Coeur d’alene River Basin
discounted costs over the first three decades to be approximately $360 million, including approximately $92 million to protect human health in the basin and approximately $250 million primarily for environmental protection (EPA 2002, Table 12.0-1). The current population of children in the basin (the primary intended beneficiaries of remedial efforts in residential areas) is small, and it remains unclear how much conditions will actually be improved for the fish and waterfowl by the interim measures being proposed. Thus, the question “Is is worth it?” is often raised. This question, however, pertains to the requirements of the applicable federal laws and is not germane to the question of how the agency has implemented these laws. The committee has, as specified in its charge, focused on the agency’s implementation and has not addressed the broader questions about the value of these expenditures.
In this and other ways, the committee has focused on addressing issues within the statement of task. The committee attempted to strike a balance in addressing the larger issues while providing sufficient detail to explain its conclusions and recommendations. It became clear to the committee that the evaluation and remediation process are continuing. New information is being gathered, experiments on possible remedial approaches are being conducted, and proposed remedies are being revised. This process will continue for decades and perhaps centuries. Thus, the committee does not consider its review to be the last word, but hopes that its findings and recommendations will assist government agencies and other stakeholders in improving the approaches to address large complex mining megasites such as the Coeur d’Alene River basin.
EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2004. EPA Responses to NAS Questions from March 18, 2004. (April 6, 2004).
IDHW (Idaho Department of Health and Welfare). 1976. Shoshone Lead Health Project. Work Summary. Health Care No. ENV 11. Boise, ID: Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Division of Health. January 1976. 187 pp.
Long, K.R. 1998. Production and Disposal of Mill Tailings in the Coeur d’Alene Mining Region, Shoshone County, Idaho: Preliminary Estimates. U. S. Geological Survey Open File Report 98-595. U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Tucson, AZ.
Villa, C.J. 2003. Superfund vs. Mega-Sites: The Coeur d’Alene River basin story. Columbia J. Environ. Law 28(2):255-324.